Keeping sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands is an ever-increasing threat, especially for military organizations that may also have to contend with harsh working environments. It’s a concern that Korean researchers have been tackling head-on and their solution is rather impressive.
As Inverse highlights, the team has created what they’re calling NEM-PUFs, or nano-electromechanical physical unclonable functions. PUFs are similar to fingerprints in that they give each chip inside a computer a unique identity that is nearly impossible to replicate.
A NEM-PUF is an extremely small, silicon nanowire that is suspended in a liquid between two gates during manufacturing. When the liquid evaporates, the nanowire randomly sticks to one of the two gates, representing a zero or a one. By grouping several of these chips together, you end up with a really long – and entirely random – security code that is said to be nearly impossible to mimic.
Researchers also tested the hardware under several harsh environments, subjecting them to high levels of radiation as well as microwaves and high temperatures. They even added in a self-destruction mechanism capable of destroying the chip or device if it is tampered with.
This, as you can imagine, would be quite attractive to organizations that need secure and robust solutions.
The researchers have published their findings in a paper in the journal ACS Nano should you be interested in a deeper dive.